Champions Atletico Madrid notched up their first win of the season, but looked far from their best, and were lucky to escape with all three points against Eibar.
For all of Eibar’s silky build up play and a stunning goal by Abraham, they were undone by two set pieces in the first half, scored by Miranda and Mario Mandzukic.
Atletico Madrid had to do without pragmatic manager Diego Simeone, who was serving a touchline ban, and the home side seemed to miss his presence and tactical insight.
However it is clear the Argentine has been putting his team through their paces in training when it came to set pieces, which proved to be their most potent weapon.10 of Atletico’s last 13 goals have come from set-pieces, with two of them scored on Saturday.
At only 5ft 11in, Xabi Irureta has a limited aerial presence in the Eibar goal. Madrid played on this weakness, grabbing the opening goal from a corner. Koke whipped in a ball to the near post, which was met by the head Miranda, who shrugged of his marker and flicked the ball past Irureta.
After scoring the winning goal in Atletico Madrid’s Supercup victory against rivals Real, Mandzukic bagged his first goal in La Liga, using his famed aerial abilities.
Again Madrid exploited Eibar’s aerial deficiencies, as the Croatian out jumped Raul Navas and connected with Gabi’s free-kick.
Finding a way past last season’s best defence was always going to prove difficult, and if Eibar were to do so it would require something special. Enter Abraham. The left-back, on loan from Zaragoza played a one-two with Mikel Arruabarrena, before unleashing a curling finesse shot with his weaker foot that flew past a helpless Moya.
Atletico went back down the other end as they looked to restore their two goal advantage, would’ve found it, had it not been for the Irureta, who pulled out a brilliant stop to deny Raul Garcia’s deflected effort.
Early spells of the second half saw Eibar camped in Atletico Madrid's half, passing, probing and trying to work an opening against a staunch defence.
Moya was called into action after 65 minutes to deny Angel at the near post after a clever through ball by Abraham put the striker through.
Antoine Griezmann was substituted, after a somewhat uninspiring display. Although in truth, not too many in an Atletico shirt stood out, with Eibar monopolizing possession and playing the more attractive football.
Despite this, they could not get the better of the home side. So they took a leaf out of Atletico’s playbook and exploited set-pieces – and it nearly worked.
Javi Lara whipped in a beautiful free-kick which found Bóveda at the far post, but his effort flew wide, getting only minimal contact on the header.
However Eibar’s best chance to level the match fell to Angel five minutes from the end. Godin’s missed interception put the striker through on goal, but he poked the ball wide under pressure from left-back Siqueira.
The champion’s staunch defence saw them over the line in the second half, but the newcomers could so easily have provided another shock result after defeating Real Sociedad last week.
Goals: Miranda (ATL), Mandzukic (ATL), Abraham (EIB)
Bookings: Mario Suarez (ATL), Koke (ATL), Gabi (ATL)
Atletico Madrid: Moyá, Miranda, Juanfran, Guilherme Siqueira, Diego Godin, Raúl Garcia, Mario Suárez, Koke, Gabi, Antoine Griezmann (Raul Jiménez), Mario Mandzukic (Saúl)
Eibar: Xabi Irureta, Raúl Albentosa, Abraham, Bóveda, Raúl Navas, Javi Lara, Ander Capa (Dani Nieto), Jon Errasti, Dani Garcia (Saúl), Mikel Arruabarrena (Manu del Moral)
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms